Bolton Wanderers to play landmark 5,000th game in 148-year history

Video report by Granada Reports Sports Correspondent Chris Hall

Bolton Wanderers will reach a landmark in its 148-year history when it plays in its 5,000th league game on Saturday 11 February.

Formed as Christ Church Football Club in 1874, it became Bolton Wanderers in 1877 and scored the Football League's first ever goal in 1888. 

But the club was not the biggest team in Bolton at the time, and has been through highs and lows ever since.

Club historian Simon Marland said: "There were a lot of clubs around the area, and we were fortunate that we got invited to join the Football League."

Captain Nat Lofthouse receives the FA Cup from Prince Philip after scoring both goals in his team's 2-0 win over Manchester United. Credit: PA Images

While Bolton won the FA Cup four times, League success eluded them and not long after Nat Lofthouse conquered Wembley, Bolton slipped down to the Third Division.

After a First Division stint in the 1970s came a slide to Division Four in the 1980s, until a unique group of characters transformed their fortunes and gave nightmares to the biggest clubs in England.

Former footballer David Lee played for Bolton Wanderers in the 1990s. He said: "The camaraderie was there.

"Once we started winning the League games and then the Cup games came along and we beat the likes of Everton, Arsenal, and was a stepping stone for Bolton to go onto greater things."

David Lee's generation earned promotion to the Premier League twice, and the club bid farewell to Burnden Park - the ground with a supermarket in its architecture.

David said: "People used to take the mickey out of us and say it wasn't a stadium, it was a shopping mall, but the atmosphere was fantastic."

Bolton spent 11 years in the Premier League, but a financial crisis nearly four years nearly killed the club.

Protest outside the ground in 2019. Credit: ITV News

Their game against Peterborough on Saturday is their 5,000th League match for a club on the up.

Manager Ian Evatt said: "It means even more knowing the journey that we've been on at this football club.

"We almost lost it, which would have been an absolute travesty.

"To reach this landmark is something everybody should be proud of."

With promotion in their sights again, the next 5,000 memories for Bolton Wanderers may quickly include one of their finest.